6.5 or 300WM lightweight rifle for Big Game?

rustyN

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May 11, 2017
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Between the two I would go 6.5 PRC. It is more than enough for elk, even out to 600 yards (or more, depending on a lot of different variables). You don't need a magnum to kill elk, you need a bullet that will perform properly at the constraints you put on it and you need to be able to place the bullet in the right spot. The 6.5 is more than enough.
 

Spiral Horn

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Oct 19, 2019
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Since no one rifle or cartridge is ideal for all game or styles of hunting, the “one rifle to do it all” solution is always a compromise.

That being said I recently faced this dilemma myself when choosing a custom build for a backpacking/mountain/stalking rifle and chose the 6.5PRC. Has shoot-ability characteristics close to the 6.5CM, but a bit more lethal pop with even less drift & drop if longer range shots are required. Available in a custom-short or medium action for a 22-24in barrel mountain rifle build that is very comfortable to haul and shoot without a brake. All deer-sheep-mountain critters are right in the 6.5PRC’s wheelhouse, and it’s adequate for Elk/Red Stag with 143gr ELD-X or 140gr Accubond.

Already have accurate 300WM & WEA rifles but they come in at 10-11lbs+ fully rigged. Overkill for Deer or Sheep, but great for a Moose or Brown Bear. Even at that weight they still slap with stout recoil, and are a burden to carry in the mountains. One has a removable-brake which I usually take it off - would rather deal with the recoil than the blast-concussion. Don’t imagine any unbraked 300 would be comfortable to shoot in a light mountain rifle. Also have a 6.5CM in an ~8lb (fully rigged & loaded) H-S Precision PHL. Love it’s balance, shoot-ability, accuracy - and have been impressed with the lethality of 6.5s on a bunch of Sheep and Goats. But after a bit of mountain hunting noticed some huge variations in wind currents/channels between where I’m taking the shot and where the Sheep are standing. The 6.5PRC offers similar shooting/handling characteristics to the 6.5CM with a bit more pop, and even less drift & drop.

Anyway, that’s why I went with the 6.5PRC for my all-arounder. But will still take my 300WM or WEA for Moose or Bear.
 

Huntindog45

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Mar 13, 2017
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so.. have you thought about a short mag? i love my 300 wsm. similar balistics. less recoil, shorter action. I love the 300 wm. but for all the reasons listed above i also like my 300 wsm
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
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Since you are including elk, go with the 300 Win Mag (of these two choices).

While not custom, my T3X in 300 Win Mag weighs right at 8 pounds loaded. Surprisingly the recoil is not bad at all (to me). My point is that you do not necessarily have to fear a lightweight magnum rifle. Rifle fit and design does play an important part in felt recoil. There's also Limbsaver recoil pads which can help (huge difference on my 18.5" 870 shotgun).
 

mxgsfmdpx

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Oct 22, 2019
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Hey there. You're going to get lots of opinions on this one and here is another one. The .28 Nosler, in the same size bullets as the .300 Win Mag has more energy, less wind deflection, better ballistics, and less felt recoil. If I were spending the money to get a nice custom rifle built it would be in either .28 Nosler or .300 Remington Ultra Mag. These two are the kings of long range, high performance cartridges right now.
 

Spiral Horn

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Oct 19, 2019
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so.. have you thought about a short mag? i love my 300 wsm. similar balistics. less recoil, shorter action. I love the 300 wm. but for all the reasons listed above i also like my 300 wsm
Sure have. Bought a Kimber Montana 300 WSM a few years back. Loved how it handled in a 8.5lb (fully rigged) short action rifle. The recoil was noticeably less than the WM, still pretty stout but manageable in that light rifle. But just couldn’t get it to group consistently no matter what we tried. Thought it was the rifle vs cartridge and considered doing my custom in either 300WSM or 6.5PRC. But several well-seasoned gunsmiths and barrel MFRs pointed out that since I was focused on a mountain rifle with a light-contour stainless barrel - with everything else being equal a 6.5 diameter will be stiffer. Also, at 400-500yards the 6.5PRC still has enough energy for Elk, and significantly less drift/drop than the 300WSM. Since I’ll more often be hunting deer-sheep-goat sized game (400lbs or less) and less often bull elk, I opted for the 6.5PRC.
 

Huntindog45

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Sure have. Bought a Kimber Montana 300 WSM a few years back. Loved how it handled in a 8.5lb (fully rigged) short action rifle. The recoil was noticeably less than the WM, still pretty stout but manageable in that light rifle. But just couldn’t get it to group consistently no matter what we tried. Thought it was the rifle vs cartridge and considered doing my custom in either 300WSM or 6.5PRC. But several well-seasoned gunsmiths and barrel MFRs pointed out that since I was focused on a mountain rifle with a light-contour stainless barrel - with everything else being equal a 6.5 diameter will be stiffer. Also, at 400-500yards the 6.5PRC still has enough energy for Elk, and significantly less drift/drop than the 300WSM. Since I’ll more often be hunting deer-sheep-goat sized game (400lbs or less) and less often bull elk, I opted for the 6.5PRC.
i tried a kimber montana once and hated everything about that rifle. it was a buddies that he had borrowed and it was a certified POS.
 

Spiral Horn

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Oct 19, 2019
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Yeah, I hear you. Thought the Montana handled well, but just wouldn’t shoot straight. Got tired of throwing money at it and bought an H-S Precision next - night and day difference.
 

EmperorMA

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Dec 7, 2018
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120
I’ve been around seven different Kimber Montana rifles and none of them would shoot well. All owned by diligent hand-loaders and excellent marksman. When none of these rifles could group anything under 2” Kimber fans (and Kimber) said, “User error. You don’t know how to shoot light rifles.”

Interestingly enough, each of these rifles was replaced with an equally light Barrett, NULA or Forbes and all shot sub-MOA with the guys “who couldn’t shoot light rifles” manning the controls.
 
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